Bikers have spiritual, bonding experience for veteran fund raiser

Camille Doty

July 21, 2012 at 2:21 a.m.

John and Monica Torres, of Victoria,  head out on the Tech for Vets ride at Riverside Park. The ride took them to Port Lavaca, Mission Valley and back.

John and Monica Torres, of Victoria, head out on the Tech for Vets ride at Riverside Park. The ride took them to Port Lavaca, Mission Valley and back.   Carolina Astrain for The Victoria Advocate

The aroma of cigars and barbecue wafted through the Riverside Park trees at the break of day.

Men revved up their motorcycle engines in harmony making a thunderous sound.

Bandanas, leather vests and tattoo sleeves may describe a biker, but not define him.

Beyond the rugged exterior, lies a soft spot for helping others.

Sixty-five enthusiasts from Victoria, Hallettsville and San Antonio participated in the first ever Tech For Vets Bike Run.

The Houston-based organization was founded in 2011 by veterans to help other veterans receive computers and other devices to assist and enhance their lives.

Alfredo "Fast Freddy" Rosas said riding his Kawasaki, basking in the sun, and being with the Lord are the perfect ingredients for an enjoyable Saturday.

The 54-year-old Victoria resident rides whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Rosas started riding when he was 17 years old and has collected 10 motorcycles in his lifetime. His passion for bikes wasn't lost even when it ended his cousin's life in 1976.

Tony Garcia was 18 years old when he was killed in Victoria. A driver ran a stop sign and crashed into him, Rosas said.

Picking up Garcia's blood-filled helmet rattled Rosas and to this day he opts not to wear one.

"It takes me back like it was yesterday," said Rosas, who said he's been burdened with guilt.

Getting on the road is a spiritual experience for the father of three. His deceased cousin serves as another level of protection.

"I ride with an angel in my pocket," he said.

Before Rosas and the other motorcyclists began their journey Saturday, they bowed their heads to pray.

"You never know when you're going to need that blessing," said Mike Swearingen, founding pastor of Rushing Wind Church in Victoria.

Patsy Hysquierdo, the event coordinator, was pleased with the Saturday turnout and was hopeful for the future.

"We are just getting started," she said.

The participants made stops at AMCO Auto Insurance in Victoria, Chacha's in Port Lavaca and The Barn in Mission Valley before making their way back to Victoria. After the excursion, bikers could catch a glimpse of the car show and listen to live music.

Chris Roberts, of Victoria, rode to keep his friend's memory alive and his bike running. Jose "Joe" Rivera, who was an active volunteer with Warrior's Weekend, died in December.

Roberts took the 1700 Yamaha on the road. Rivera served as his co-pilot. "I carry an urn with some of his ashes because he rides with me."

The love of motorcycles cemented a bond of brotherhood.

Rosas agreed.

"We're just like one, big happy family," said Rosas. "Every man should have a motorcycle."

The post office sales associate said he's been in 15 bike runs and keeps a memento from each stint. In the beginning he called himself a solo rider and gained friends in the end.

"When you're on the road and see 50 other bikes around you, there's no feeling like it."



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